West Bay SonShip is back in the spotlight with their first new build in seven years—a great-looking 72-foot Skylounge motor yacht.
Ben and Leidi Vermeulen founded West Bay in 1967 and started off building a variety of private, government and commercial vessels. The company grew rapidly, and by the mid 1990s—with sons Wes and Bas, and many other relations sharing the helm—West Bay was building 14 to 16 yachts a year (up to 107 feet in length) and had a workforce of more than 400 at the company’s 6.5-acre complex on the banks of the Fraser River in Delta.
That success began to decline in the early 2000s when West Bay—along with a number of other major players—was caught out by the 10 to 15 percent drop in the US–Canada exchange rate, which lead to a collapse of all-important U.S. orders. Although the company hung on for several more years, in 2007 they were forced to reorganize. Unlike other companies, however, which shut down, West Bay survived by changing their focus to repair and refit work. That side of the business grew steadily and saved the company.
The company moved back into the boatbuilding mode a few years ago, when a repeat West Bay customer approached the company about building a larger replacement yacht. The result is a great-looking yacht that the company—and the B.C. boatbuilding industry—hopes will lead to many more new builds.
Design and Construction The new-build customer had a great deal of cruising experience in the Northwest. He and his wife had owned a West Bay 58 (West Bay’s most popular model ever, with more than 100 built) for a dozen years and wanted many of the same attributes, but in a larger yacht. West Bay’s engineers and designers went to work and decided they could use the proven 58-foot, hard-chine hull mold, but widen it by 1.5 feet and lengthen it by 14 feet. Above decks, the house and skylounge (essentially an enclosed flybridge) were redesigned with a more modern, stylish look, which incorporated gray-tinted frameless windows. The interior design, again based on the 58, was also customized to the owner’s preferences, which allowed for larger living spaces.
The hull, above and below the waterline, was built from closed-cell Divinycell foam-cored fibreglass using vacuum infusion, complimented by exterior coatings of vinyl ester resin for osmosis protection. It is interesting to note that West Bay was one of the pioneers in vacuum infusion for large hulls, and has been using the technique for more than 18 years.
The decks are balsa cored while the house is foam cored. Structural strength for the decks and elsewhere comes from either aluminum I-beams or fibreglass encapsulated wood. All cabinetry is fibreglassed into place for a secure bond that minimizes rattling and creaking when compared to mechanical fastening. As hull one was a prototype, it didn’t make sense to create full tooling. Therefore, instead of gelcoat, the exterior of the vessel was painted. Using Alexseal epoxy paint (similar to Awlgrip) resulted in an extremely fair hull with no rippling or show through. Alexseal is also much easier to repair/refinish than gelcoat.
On Deck When stepping aboard we wereimmediately impressed by the beautifully-finished and spacious teak-planked swim platform and cockpit. When combined with the overhead tender deck that covers most of the cockpit, this area is an excellent space to fish, cook on the barbecue, dine or relax in any weather. A large teak table fronts a forward-facings settee with room for half a dozen folding teak deck chairs.
One great cockpit feature is the port and starboard docking/fishing stations. They are superb for close-quarters docking/maneuvering, and are also important when battling a big tyee salmon. When not in use, they fold neatly out of the way into dedicated compartments.
Access to the very tidy engine room is via a gas-strut hatch in the cockpit sole. Aft of that is another hatch that leads down to a huge lazarette where most of the non-engine systems are installed, including a fish freezer (there’s also a live bait tank built into the swim platform) and watermaker.
Interior High-quality stainless and glass French doors lead into the saloon. The interior spaces have plenty of headroom (mostly 6.5-feet). The cabinetry is American cherry while the flooring is a mix of beige Berber carpet and light-stained oak planking inlaid with dark Sapele. Most countertops are gold-flecked granite, with medium-brown silestone quartz in the accommodation areas. The main deck area inside is broken up into three areas that are all about the same size, the saloon, the galley and the dinette.
The main saloon is highlighted by an L-shaped settee to starboard. It faces a long low cabinet/entertainment centre. Inside is a 55-inch pop-up flat-screen TV (connected to a KVH satellite dome). Other furnishings include two patterned tub chairs and a lounge chair.
Forward and up two stairs is the spacious U-shaped galley. No expense was spared here and the high-end appliances include full-size Sub Zero fridge, Miele dishwasher, Bosch induction cooktop and separate wall oven. There is also a trash compactor, microwave, wine cooler, stainless double-basin sink (with in-sink garbage disposal). To top things off, there’s plenty of counter space and storage room in overhead and under-counter cabinets. This is a wonderful space for any chef.
Just forward of the galley, to port and starboard, are sliding doors to the side decks. A wooden stairway to starboard leads up to the skylounge.
The area that would traditionally be dedicated to the lower helm was redesigned as a cozy U-shaped raised dinette with dark Ultraleather upholstery. This is sure to be a popular space because of the many gray-tinted windows and excellent visibility.
Skylounge Unless the weather is perfect, the person driving the boat from an upper helm station is often alone and missing out on the party below. In the case of the 72, however, the fully-enclosed skylounge is as cozy as the saloon. Nu-Heat in-floor heating (electric) keeps it cozy in winter, and reverse cycle air conditioning (or natural ventilation) will keep it cool in summer.
The intelligently-laid-out helm console is built around two 19-inch NavNet TZ touch screen multifunction units, the Caterpillar digital engine readouts, Maretron systems monitor and all the usual goodies. We like that the console and its touch screens are positioned within arm’s reach of the helm seat so the owner doesn’t have to climb out of the helm seat to adjust things. Aft is an L-shaped raised settee fronted by a triangular granite table. With the great visibility out the skylounge windows, this area is set up to serve as a computer station/office for the owner. When it’s time for a drink there’s a well-equipped wet bar within easy reach. A stainless-framed glass door (with Phantom roll screen) opens to the tender deck where a 15foot Boston Whaler Montauk fishing machine rests on chocks. An eight-way Steelhead davit is used to launch and retrieve it.
Accommodation A stairway forward of the galley leads down to the plush, carpeted accommodation areas. Aft is the full-width master. Natural light comes from two large oval portlights with fitted covers to port and starboard. There is a king size bed with side tables and lamps, a flat screen TV, tons of clothes storage in full-size aromatic cedar lines hanging lockers and enough drawer space for an entire wardrobe. The en suite is full length with heated tile floors, dual square undersinks and separate molded shower with frameless glass door. The en suite is framed by two wide sliding pocket doors; a very nice touch and one that avoids the space taken up by normal hinged doors. The only downside to the master was that because of its location adjacent to the engine room, it was relatively noisy while the vessel was underway.
The portside guest stateroom has two single berths but is quite cozy with good headroom. The VIP stateroom is in the bow and has a queen size bed with lots of cabinets, great headroom and plenty of storage space. The guest/day head with separate shower opens to both the forward stateroom and the hallway, where a stacked Miele washer and dryer are tucked out of sight.
Engine and Systems Power is via twin 1,000 horsepower Cat C18 diesels and standard shaft drives. The engine room is reasonably spacious with room to move all around the engines. All wiring and plumbing is neat and tidy. Power-assisted hydraulic steering and the trim tabs are from Teleflex. Hydraulic pumps off each transmission power the windlass as well as the 12-inch Keypower bow and stern thrusters and fin stabilizers. West Bay’s proprietary electric power management system insures that the proper voltage is supplied to all components regardless of the input. One of the features requested by the owner is the ability to control systems with his Samsung tablet. As such, the navigation system displays, the televisions, ships camera displays and all the owner’s manuals can be accessed remotely.
Underway Using the cockpit docking station and the bow and stern thruster controls, it was a snap to get away from West Bay’s dock facility on the South Arm of the Fraser River. The 72 accelerated smoothly and we were immediately impressed with the fast get-up-and-go and minimal bow rise of the 84,000-pound vessel. Seated comfortably in the skylounge, we felt totally at ease, even during high-speed turns. There was some slight cavitation in hard turns but that may have been due to the fact that this is a large yacht, not a sports yacht. At wide-open-throttle (2,360 rpm), our top speed was an impressive 27 knots. An easy cruising speed was about 22 or 23 knots (2,000 rpm), which meant burning about 75 US gallons per hour. This translates to 0.3 miles per gallon, which is about what one would expect for a vessel of this size. With a fuel capacity of 1,200 US gallons, this would give a cruising range of about 360 miles. At just over nine knots (1,000 rpm) the fuel economy increased to 0.75 miles per gallon.
Concluding Remarks The 72 has a stylish new look that is sure to turn heads. It is put together well with top quality components and nicely finished inside and out. It performed admirably underway and despite it length, it can still be handled by a couple. West Bay has done a remarkable job and we expect this will be the first of many new builds for them. Price as tested was US$4-million.
West Bay Sonship 72 Skylounge
|Hull length (centerline)||19.9 m||65’ 5”|
|Length, waterline||19.9 m||58’ 1”|
|Beam||5.6 m||18’ 6”|
|Weight (light)||38,100 kg||84,000 lbs|
|Fuel||4,542 L||1,200 USG|
|Water||984 L||260 USG|
|Holding||360 L||95 USG|
Std Power 2 x 1,000 hp Cat C18 diesels
Built and Sold by
West Bay SonShip